Friday, October 12, 2018

In memoriam: George Kaftan (Boston Celtics, NY Knicks, Baltimore Bullets)

George Kaftan (1928-2018)


Dr. George A. Kaftan, 90, passed away peacefully on October 6, 2018. Born and raised in Washington Heights, NY, George lived an extraordinary life both professionally and personally. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Helen; his three daughters, Esta, Evelyn and Georgette; his grandchildren Stephen and wife Erin, Michael, Evan, Natasha and Grant; and great-grandchildren, Harper and Beckett.

As a junior at Xavier High School in New York City, George found his way on to a basketball court which was the start of an illustrious professional basketball career. Playing as starting center for the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, George's team won the 1947 NCAA title with him being selected the tournament's Most Valuable Player. As a two time All-American, "The Golden Greek" was named by the NCAA as one of the greatest college players in history, and went on to play professionally for the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Baltimore Bullets.

Deciding it was time to move on from pro ball in 1953, George enrolled in Georgetown University's School of Dentistry. After graduating, George worked at the Dental Clinic stationed at Mitchell Field Air Force Base on Long Island, NY. He also coached the Base's basketball team to victory in the World Wide Air Force Tournament in San Antonio. This led to a coaching position for the C.W. Post College basketball team, as well as a professorship teaching Anatomy & Physiology. George once said, "Out of all of my professions, the one that gave me the most gratification by far was teaching. That's the lesson of my life, anyway. If you have a chance to share what you know, and steer young people to the right path, that's what we're here for."

Even with all of his extraordinary professional successes, family was always George's greatest passion After raising their children in Muttontown, Long Island, George retired from his private dental practice and was honored with the title of Professor Emeritus from CW. Post College. George and Helen moved to Wall, NJ to be closer to their grandchildren. George passed on his love of fishing to his grandchildren, taking them on annual fishing trips that they'll remember forever. He will always be their "Pops," from whom they learned lessons of integrity, humbleness, and hard work. Even 90 years is too short for a man who was loved by so many. In his own gentle way, George shook the world and we're certain he's now shooting hook shots in heaven.

Family and friends are invited to visit on Wednesday, October 10th from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at Orender Family Home for Funerals, 2643 Old Bridge Road, Manasquan, NJ. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, October 11th at 10:30 am at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, 2200 Church Road, Toms River, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Cancer Support Community of Central New Jersey. Checks payable to CSCCNJ and sent to the address below or visit

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